Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TallyHo-Traveller’s Springtime Gallop Through Northern and Central Europe 2012 - Day Eight

The start of Easter Sunday arrived much too soon even with a late alarm of 8:15 AM. We dressed and met Kaitlin at 9 AM to walk the 4 blocks to the Einstein Cafe for breakfast. Just beating the morning rush of customers, we found a backroom table and enjoyed our light breakfast offerings of fruit, muffins, and cake as well as the mandatory coffee and tea. Since relatively few stores are open on Sunday in Germany we wandered across the street to briefly show Nana the CheckPoint Charlie memorial we had viewed in more depth the previous evening. Walking back to the Angleterre through a growing crowd of tourists I took photos of the hotel façade from across the street. Once inside the hotel, I took the lift (elevator) up to the 7th floor to check out the mini gym and sauna. Discovering both were locked at mid-day on a holiday Sunday I decided to go back and enjoy being in our lovely 2 room suite for a few more minutes before the noon checkout time. Check out was, once again, very friendly and efficient.

Back on the U6 to the S1 train we traveled on to the last hotel on our trip – the Holiday Inn Mitte, just a few short blocks from the Gesundbrunnen train station (Bahnhof).

Well, it’s only a few short blocks to the hotel providing you get off the train and head in the proper direction. As luck would have it, we did not and ended up walking around the long (i.e. scenic route) way to the hotel (Berlin city street maps are always a good idea). We walked through a small park on the way and arrived at the hotel about an hour prior to the published check in time. Luck was partially on our side, as the Reception Desk staff on duty informed us that one of our 2 requested rooms was ready, so we could certainly check in early with that one. We decided to drop off all of our luggage in the readied room and check in to the other once we returned to the hotel after meeting our German cousins.

Taking the train to Bornholmerstrasse in the former East Berlin section wto meet with our cousins at a coffee shop by the name of Elf (translated to “eleven” in English) we arrived just a few minutes before Cousin Martin. We sat in the backroom, anticipating ordering one of the sublime pieces of cake displayed in the front of the café. Various cake slices were eagerly ordered after Martin’s arrival – both Martin and Randy ordered a plum marzipan torte, Kaitlin and Nana had the raspberry torte and I opted for the schokoladen/orangen (chocolate/orange) torte which was heavenly! Chris chose a meat, cheese, fruit platter that was quite substantial (and quite tasty he said). Soon Cousin Kati and their 2 children arrived and introductions were made all around. Soon enough the toddlers became restless and Kati, being the good mother she is, took them across the street to the park while we conversed with Martin. After a couple of hours, naptime for the children beckoned, and we departed the café, but not before Nana and I ordered a couple of cake slices for carry out (I bet you can guess which types we chose) fas a late night dessert. Walking along with the cousins until we reached their apartment building, we bid adieu then walked back to the train station via another Berlin Wall memorial. This memorial commemorated the demise of the Wall and the reintroduction of the East Berliners with their West Berlin brothers and sisters via the bridge that stood immediately before us. A humbling experience and one all should see if given the opportunity.

Back to the Holiday Inn Mitte via train, we arrived just in time to dine at the hotel restaurant, Movie, and enjoy the Sunday Schnitzel Special menu. Eager with anticipation both Randy and I ordered the Wiener schnitzel – would it live up to our schnitzel expectations? Emphatically YES – the schnitzel was extraordinary as was the potato/ham/pickle salad that accompanied it. (Could we please bring the chef back to the States with us?) Nana enjoyed the chicken schnitzel (more like a chicken cordon bleu), Kaitlin savored her schnitzel selection and Chris truly appreciated the non-breaded pork schnitzel with “tasty buttery” potatoes on the side. Add the obligatory Berliner Weisse (red, not green) as the finish to a perfect European Easter Sunday.

After dinner Nana decided on a few short games of FreeCell on her Kindle while the rest of us decided to check out the sauna and observatory on the 6th floor. We discovered a fantastic view of nighttime Berlin from the outdoor portion of the conservatory and definitely sweated off some of the day’s calories in the menthol scented sauna (supposedly 5 minute limit per use which we eventually figured out). Then back to our rooms around 10 PM for much needed showers and sleep.

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